Thursday, 23 May 2024

Alibaba’s Singles Day breaks record within minutes of launch

5 min read

By Janine Marie Crisanto

Alibaba achieved another record-breaking sales of RMB498.2 billion ($74.1 billion) in total gross merchandise volume for its 11-day shopping festival this year

This year, Alibaba reported a record-breaking RMB498.2 billion ($74.1 billion) in total gross merchandise volume (GMV) for its Singles Day or 11.11 sales. Unlike previous years when Singles Day sales were recorded over 24 hours, this year's activities started from 1 November and there was a three-day period in addition to the actual day on 11 November when special discounts were offered.

COVID-19 has accelerated online shopping as the total GMV this year is almost double of last year's 24-hour GMV of $38 billion (RMB 268.4 billion).

Scale of its digital ecosystem

This year, about 250,000 brands participated in the shopping festival, of which 12.4% were overseas brands and 2,600 were first-time participants.

More than 470 brands achieved more than $15 million (RMB 100 million) in sales, including Apple, L’Oréal, Haier, Estée Lauder, Nike, Huawei, Midea, Lancôme, Xiaomi and Adidas. Over 1,800 emerging brands surpassed their GMV from 11.11 last year and 94 emerging brands enjoyed sales growth of over 1,000%. As a result, 357 emerging brands became top sellers in their respective subcategories. The United States emerged as the top country selling to China by GMV. Other countries, in alphabetical order, include: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and UK.

In April 2020, Alibaba Group chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang announced its 2020 Spring Thunder Initiative to help SMEs during the pandemic. Measures include new market expansion through Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms, immediate financial support, digitisation of manufacturing clusters and digital transformation of the agriculture sector. More than a million merchants and 300,000 factories from over 2,000 industry clusters were involved in Singles Day activities. 

Alibaba’s underlying technology platform

Within 30 minutes of the official start of its 2020 Singles Day event, sales reached $56.3 billion (RMB 372.3 billion). Early sales peaked at 583,000 orders per second reflecting the company’s technological capability. Meanwhile, AI-powered chatbots handled over 2.1 billion queries during the 11-day period.

Cainiao Network, a smart platform technology which powers the logistics of Singles Day delivery, processed more than 2.32 billion orders over the 11-day period. In 2019, it handled over 1.88 billion 11.11-related parcels.

This year, livestreaming was utilised as a key marketing tool during the event. Over 30 livestreaming channels were featured on Taobao Live, and  each generated more than $15 million (RMB100 million) in GMV.

Success of Singles Day dampened by Ant Group’s aborted IPO

Notwithstanding the strong online sales, Alibaba’s New York and Hong Kong-listed stocks plunged 8% and 9.8% respectively as the Chinese government released antitrust draft regulations on areas including data usage, payments and pricing.

This comes on the back of the recent postponement of its financial services subsidiary ANT Group’s record $35 billion IPO on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges, amid news of an apparent rift between co-founder Jack Ma and financial regulators.

Other e-commerce platforms also outperformed 2019 sales

Alibaba’s rival also set a new record of $41 billion (RMB 271.5 billion) in transaction volume for the 11 days of sales as compared to last year’s $23.8 billion (RMB165.8 billion). Southeast Asian e-commerce platforms have also seen increases in consumption. Shopee reported 200 million items sold for this year, which is more than double their sales last year of 70 million products in 24 hours. Meanwhile, Lazada reported that more than 400,000 sellers across Southeast Asia transacted during the sale, of which more than 50% were local SMEs and small retailers. Over 40 million customers visited the platform during the day.

Visit for further information about the sales.


Keywords: Singles Day
Institution: Alibaba, Apple, L’Oréal, Haier, Estée Lauder, Nike, Huawei, Midea, Lancôme, Xiaomi, Adidas.
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